Fri, September 20, 2013

Usain Bolt joins sports' biggest braggarts

By QMI AGENCY


Muhammad Ali is among the biggest boasters in sports history: "I am the greatest! I'm the greatest thing that ever lived," he once said.


This will probably be the greatest news story you've ever read.

(OK, maybe not.)

But that's certainly the sentence that would start this article if it were being written by any of the men listed below — a collection of the biggest braggarts in sports history.

Olympic sprint sensation Usain Bolt may have topped them all this week by calling himself "a living legend" after winning the 200-metre gold at the London Games. Then again, it's hard to imagine anyone being more boastful than Muhammad Ali. Or Rickey Henderson. Or Patrick Roy. Or everyone in the NFL. Or anybody on our list:

RICKEY HENDERSON

He's a baseball legend — just ask him. In 1991, he stole the 939th base of his career to break the record held by Lou Brock. In his post-steal speech, he made comments that immediately had sports fans shaking their heads: "Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I'm the greatest of all time. Thank you." (Hey, at least he said thank you.) To little surprise, Henderson once said his hero was Muhammad Ali.

MUHAMMAD ALI

He is no doubt the heavyweight champion of self-promotion, with such quotes as "I'm not the greatest, I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round." But Ali remains beloved, perhaps because his big mouth extended beyond his own fabulousness and into political issues, like why he refused to go to war: "While I'm in a foxhole in Vietnam I read about white folks shooting up negroes and killing them with the same weapons that they use in a war ..."

PATRICK ROY

When you're among the greatest goalies in NHL history, a little braggadacio is expected. Maybe even required. And hockey fans still howl over Roy's response to Jeremy Roenick's criticism of his goaltending during a 1996 Chicago-Colorado playoff series: "I can't really hear what Jeremy says because I've got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears." (Roy won his third ring that spring.)

BOBBY RIGGS

Decades after he'd been the world's No. 1 tennis player in the late 1930s, Riggs, at age 55, played Billie Jean King, 29, in a much-hyped "battle of the sexes" sparked when he said: "I want Billie Jean King. I want the women's lib leader." He also added: "If I am to be a chauvinist pig, I want to be the No. 1 chauvinist pig." He quieted down a bit when King kicked his butt in their match.

GEORGE BEST

The Belfast soccer star, widely considered one of the best players in history, died at 59 in 2005 after years of hard-living ("I spent a lot of money on booze, birds [women] and fast cars. The rest I just squandered"). His talent was unquestionable, but he claimed his good looks led to a lifestyle that held him back: "If I had been born ugly, you would have never heard of Pele," he famously said.